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What’s Movement to a Dancer?

What appears to be physical changes of position and poses is for the dancer a refining of complex networks of signals connecting, dissolving, and reconnecting throughout all the systems of the person.

These signals travel in curved pathways that have been understood by dancers for centuries and are now studied as Structural Integration. It is the curved pathways of signals that a dancer experiences as continuous movement of sensation, anticipation, initiation, completion, and transition into multiple directions at once.

The dancer’s tools of compression and extension are related to signals that are continuously in motion. What appears as stillness or a pause is actually another state of movement.

An audience can immediately identify the delight of a dancer’s simple movement. For the dancer also the movement is an instantaneous connection of physical, emotional, and intentional signals.

From the viewer’s point of view, the movement looks automatic as if a body memory has taken over. For the dancer, there is a rapid shifting of many kinds of focus. One type of focus is from the micro view to monitor a specific skill and the macro view of the entire person at once. Another type of focus is in the awareness which shifts the view from foreground to background.

Even though it may seem as if some movements are directed and others automatic, for the dancer patterns are variations of experience that work at levels sometimes called heightened awareness and sometimes requiring less attention. Both levels of the patterned skill are interconnecting with each other, the difference is the focus on foreground or background.

The dancer’s view is more of a malleable system that is in continual responsiveness. Automatic movement and muscle memory do not adequately explain their complex process.

For the viewer and often for the choreographer, the pattern is seen as a repetition, a replica of a specific movement. For the dancer, the pattern is also a malleable experience that is varied by the thoughts, emotions, and energy of the moment. This is one of the reasons that no two dance performances are the same.

Another astonishing perspective is the dancer’s ability to alter the experience of any movement with a set of modulators. A physical analogy is a musicians sound board. Any sound can be modulated and blended with dials that give more or less of different qualities.

The dancer modulates not just speed or duration but also the qualities that bring emphasis, heaviness or lightness, subtlety or boldness, to name only a few. Like the musician the outcome is a confluence of emotion and interpretation of melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.

Imagery is a tool to assist the dancer with the complexity of shifts in focus and with interconnecting the centers of movement, emotion, and formation of meaning. Signals are shaped and managed with imagery.

Also the anatomy of the body is managed with imagery. Physically, the dancer is also working with the body as a malleable system. To do this the dancer has developed imagery within a training processes for understanding the body movement.

Imagery is often indicating the direction of energy flows. Using the image of signals different areas of the body can be viewed as signal initiators and receptors. Rather than commanding a body part to move, the signal begins at a location and travels back and forth to other sites in the body. These specific locations are interconnected into networks.

Signals move between different areas of the body are called diaphragms and platforms. They usually cross the entire body and give the perspective of the dancer as moving three dimensionally and in every direction. Each one is a major sending and receiving point for many nerve endings and flows of energy.

The platforms are the arches and surfaces of the feet, the palms of the hands, the collar bone and scapula that suspend the shoulder girdle, the base of the skull, and the Fontanelles or meetings of the cranial bones at the top of the head.

The dancer makes detailed studies of each platform to refine the nerve and energy flows to and from each area. Then they connect their access to each by establishing networks between them.

The diaphragms are muscular and give clues to the dancer’s detailed training of large and small muscle groups. The diaphragms are the pelvic diaphragm also known as the pelvic floor, the lower rib cage diaphragm also known as the respiratory diaphragm, the mid chest diaphragm also known as the dancer’s diaphragm, and the Centrum Brain diaphragm with one known moving part the soft palate.

The diaphragms are the dancer’s keys to lifting up from feet to head, to spreading the body horizontally to engage front and back muscles, to arching and rotating the spine, to connecting the torso and the spine to movement of the legs and articulation of the knees, ankles, arches, and toes of the feet.

What difference does the dancer’s perspective make? Movement is a springing motion rather than a pounding one. A balance of extension and compression takes less effort and training goes past the desire to try too hard. The shifts of focus bring a sense of delight to movement. Every area of the body is accessible and trained as a supportive network.
Tim Hurst 10/09/17

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Dancer’s Speed

My experiment today is to experience my entire body engaged as a whole and to review the interconnections of each area of my body. This is a list of the principles that are flashing on and off.

Advantage of instantaneous signals managed by interconnected networks

Access to imagery to train layers of vertical and horizontal body movement.

Full spectrum of slowest to fastest motion directed by imagery to make these subtle adjustments.

Access to imagery of a wide variety of movement qualities.

Layering of imagery accessing many slow motion movements within a faster move.

Access to imagery of acceleration, rhythm, and melodic development.

Energy Generation
imagery of energy coming from every edge of the body, front, back, and side.

signals that develop along a curve rather than a one dimensional line.

images of signals as cycling an exhale of effort signals and an inhale of integration signals.

Energy Rejuvenation
the experience of a rising and falling wave motion throughout the body brain, the signal networks, the anticipation and awareness networks.

simultaneous variations of speed in many areas of the body.

horizontal counter rotations throughout the body.
Tim Hurst 09/08/17

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Dance Practice

Each moment is a kind of balance point in my life. My experience of life in that balance point is one of rising and falling, a kind of wave to ride. If I am at a malleable, agile place in my brain and body, then I accept the rise and I enter the falling.

My daily practice of dance is a sharpening of my agility to accept and enter those moments in everything I do.

The tools I use in this practice are the principles of dance as melodic, rhythmic, and experimentally varied. The languages of dance I seek to learn are first signals that are instantaneous and networked with systems connecting brain and body. Second aspect of the language of dance are images that I seek to simplify so that they amplify and clarify the signals.

The way I inform my practice is to understand in my own body the experiments and multiple ways dancers apply these principles and adapt these languages to their own unique body brain networks.

One way dancers experience is through an intimate understanding of the diaphragms of the body. I see how the dancer uses the diaphragms and I try to break down their training techniques into specific interactive steps. I also try to simplify imagery that gives me ways to apply the many actions the dance teacher introduces in each dance class.

I am aware that my observations and experiments are to some degree unique to myself. My goal is that dancers grasp the overall goals of dance teachers and gather from them an experience of awareness and imagery that can be applied to themselves as dancers and as a person.
Tim Hurst 08/31/17

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Dance Like Eating

Had two Pilates sessions to introduce my grandson to an intense workout. This was a perfect chance to test out my experience of the pelvic floor for three dimensional responsiveness through the body.

So far I am playing with the pelvic diaphragm for vertical lift sending signals to both the lower limbs and the upper torso. Horizontal wave motions regulate the position and signals to and from the hips,

First exercise of pushing out with the legs, Karin Carlson helped me identify my overuse of the thighs and need to connect the back of my legs and gluts. By alternating between horizontal and vertical lift motions of the pelvic floor I was able to immediately change my orientation. Signals moved easily through the front and back of my legs. My thighs were supported and I was able to continue to push against a heavier weight than ever before.

I continued to use this experience as I explored extensions. Balancing countering actions with each leg meant sending signals down each leg. Finding the passage points on the pelvic floor came quickly and made it easier to equalize a shorter leg and keep both hips engaged and aligned.

In the second session, I asked about the tension behind my knees. Karin suggested that I pull up from the knee caps to engage my entire thighs front and back. After feeling the sensation, I applied outward compression to both hips engaging the thighs and simultaneous lifting of the pelvic floor.

I had access to more movement in the back of my legs. Sending signals through the entire knee area gave me the extra freedom to release into more of an extension. Long way to go and lots of Ballet classes before all will be functional.

Coordination of the legs brought new sensations in muscles I had not experienced before. New cooperation had to be worked out. Stretching also felt different.
Tim Hurst. 05/14/17